Valve Blocks A Game On Steam Because One Cannot Have Greenlight And A Publisher
Valve clearly has its own way to do things. For example, Greenlight is a method for indie developers to be published on Steam–where if the developer is featured, maximum input is needed from the developer to ensure it works out. Steam does not, as you will see, appreciate developers trying to find ways to expedite or ‘get around’ the process.
Code Avarice, an indie studio, is struggling to publish Paranautical Activity on Steam, as an old Greenlight page led Valve to block a legit publishing deal with Adult Swim.
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“We had a deal with Adult Swim to publish our steam release,” said Code Avarice’s Mike Maulbeck.
“However since we had an old Greenlight page set up for the game Valve decided they ‘didn’t want to send the message that indies can seek out publishers to bypass Steam Greenlight’ and pulled the rug out from under our feet. All of our promotion and planning has been done expecting to get on Steam with no problem, so we’re in a pretty rough spot.”
While the above seems fair, it is also a bit concerning. It is not about circumventing Steam Greenlight, but rather getting the game out there as quickly and effectively as possible. Right?
The two man team of Mike Maulbeck and Travis Pfenning set up a Greenlight page for Paranautical Activity in September last year. Subsequently, issues arose.
“So now we’re just dead in the water, we’ve got a Greenlight campaign that we haven’t touched in months and we have to resurrect it from the ashes,” said Maulbeck.
“And Adult Swim, I’ve contacted them because really the only reason I even considered giving them a chunk of our profits is because they said ‘we’ll get you onto Steam’ so now are you going to help promote this Greenlight campaign? Because if not then I’m not going to give you 40 per cent of my money. And then they hit me back and they were like ‘well we don’t really want to get public with this yet because we don’t want any backlash from Steam’, so they’re not even going to help us with the Greenlight campaign at this point.”
The developers said that have no exclusive deal with Adult Swim, instead it is a means to an end to get onto Steam. They also wouldn’t mind the travel and advertising budget offered.
While I understand the integrity that Steam is trying to create, the other side of the story is that it hurts developers.
This story shows that once a game is on Greenlight, being picked up by a publisher is only going to lead to further problems.
It was said that if the troubles continue, the pair would seek alternative platforms to publish on. And, again, that comes at no loss to Steam but rather to the developers themselves. It is also understandable that the developers want their game out there, and they should do whatever they can to get it out there.
“If that is the case and we’re going to get boycotted from Steam or we’re going to have to jump through this hoops then we might want to make a move pushing towards something like Sony Entertainment or something like that.”
The developers have been approached by Sony, however they commented by saying that they will need to do some “tricky business” to get the game working properly on console.
Code Avarice feels cheated by the whole system, and they feel that the only way to really get onto Steam is by tricking people.
“It’s not about having a good game, it’s about knowing how to trick people and convince people to click that little button. You can see that by, no offence to the developers of some of the games, but some really poor stuff that’s not seemed quality that’s been getting onto Steam,” said Maulbeck. Pfenning had a blunter take on the situation.
“I feel like it’s one of those things, whose dick do I have to suck to get on to this f***ing platform? And I really don’t think that that’s fair.”
How do you feel about Valve’s decision to block the game? I understand the integrity that Valve wants to create. Also, finding a publisher to get onto Steam, although at the same time, should also be allowed. However, if it gets to the point that publishers are actually abusing the system to make money, by taking high percentage profits with minimal returns, then Steam might be right in protecting the smaller developers by making them use Greenlight instead.
It all depends on what the deal is and how it aims to benefit the developer. Maybe Steam is in it for the developer, after all?